A Transition Guide Towards the Outcome-Based Product Roadmap

Christopher Barcelona
Outcome-based product roadmaps build trust by focusing on outcomes over outputs - activating innovation with your product team and ultimately producing a better customer experience.

This mindset shift requires a different set of tasks than simply listing features and deadlines that usually miss the mark. Here we walk you through the steps of creating an outcome-based roadmap for more success with your next project.

Now that you know why your feature-based roadmaps continually fail you and the benefits of the outcome-based roadmap methodology, it’s time to transition to a better approach to product creation and improvement. Use the following steps to start your transformation to more energized and innovative Product teams and more satisfied customers.

How to Create an Outcome-Based Product Roadmap

In putting together an outcome-based roadmap, keep central the tenant that Outcomes > Output. Build your roadmap to be flexible yet measurable, and to communicate effectively across stakeholders.

1. Identify the Outcomes – Research What Customers Really Need

To align meaningful objectives, start by gathering data. That may mean emailing surveys to canvass your user base. It may include some more in-depth customer discovery sessions. It could look like focused conversations with your Sales team. Or it may mean pouring over last quarter’s support tickets. Hard data is the only way to narrow in on what is impacting your customers and by how much. This research helps inform the objectives your team will focus on.

2. Tie Team Outcomes to Business Objectives

Once you have identified desired outcomes, align them to business objectives by answering the question: how does solving this problem support the strategic goals set by leadership? By tying your objectives back to the business’ strategic goals, you create alignment, buy-in, and demonstrate your team’s part of the overall strategy.

3. Create Measurements for Your Outcomes

Going from specific outputs (features/releases/fixes) to team objectives (problems to be solved/desired outcomes), requires clear alignment on metrics for the success of the approach. Work with your team to agree upon key results that will describe how you will measure progress towards solving this objective. Ask your stakeholders: what will tell us this endeavor was a success? What will tell us we have made progress on addressing this client problem?

4. Establish a Now, Next, Later Roadmap

Depending on the size of your team, your roadmap should include 1-2 objectives to tackle this quarter. Remember, it is best to walk before you run. Earning the trust of leadership to tackle big problems means taking the time to demonstrate your Product team’s problem-solving capabilities over time.

A general “now, next, later” timeline communicates your team’s intentions without tying your team to deadlines. This construct allows for flexibility as the team works, allowing them to discover solutions and pivot if/when necessary, all while keeping context of the overall objectives, desired outcomes and priorities.

5. Version Roadmap per Stakeholder Audience

Once you have a vetted roadmap, it can be helpful to version it by target audience, publishing an internal and external version. Each will require a different level of granularity. In fact, Sean Byrnes of Outlier.ai recommends three roadmap versions: strategic, public, and engineering. Whatever the iterations, keep the focus on the What and the Why, not the How as that is up to your team. Ensure versions are kept in sync at an agreed upon cadence.

6. Establish a Review Cadence

Roadmaps are meant to reflect your learnings and be refined as you go, so update and republish them frequently (this will also help, especially in the early stages, to soothe jittery stakeholders). A key part to update is your measurable results, demonstrating your progress with metrics (internal and external versions will differ). Celebrate when significant progress is made. Admit when you fall short and what you learned – customers will trust you even more for it. Confirm at each iteration that the roadmap is leading you, your team, and your clients towards meaningful outcomes that align to business priorities.

With these core elements, your outcome-based roadmap will be positioned for success, your team will be empowered, knowledgeable and committed and your stakeholder relationships will be built upon a foundation of trust and encouragement rather than deadlines and disappointments.

Accelerate Your Product Roadmap Transition with our Roadmap Revamp Workshop

Learn how to move from outputs to outcomes and develop a shared understanding of objectives across the team in our one-day Roadmap Revamp Workshop.

Teams provide us with business objectives, a product overview, product vision and an export of your current feature-based roadmap. Armed with this information we engage in an interactive workshop driving towards establishing defined outcomes by applying the outcome-based roadmap methodology.

‍Reach out to talk with one of our Product Team experts to learn more about how the Roadmap Revamp Workshop can benefit your organization.